About Olive oil
The olive tree is a crop native to Asia Minor which spread to the rest of the Mediterranean, plus Iran and Palestine around 6,000 years ago. It is one of the oldest cultivated trees and has been growing long before the written language existed.
There are many uses of olive oil. Not only is it a gourmet cooking product, it also has a series of health and beauty benefits. The polyphenols which is found in olive oil has been shown to slow down the process of aging. Studies have also shown that olive oil offers protection against heart disease and also has the ability to reduce the effect of oncogene, the gene which turns a host cell into a cancer cell.
Flavours of the olive can depend on a range of factors including the type of olive, the ripeness of the harvest, riping conditions, crop maintenance and how the olives are handled. When tasting, much of the oils characteristics are perceived through the sense of smell. A trained taster can identify negative elements within the oil.
Cooking with Olive Oil
Some olive oils cannot stand the heat of the pan. Some types have a low smoking point and if they reach this point it means that they lose their unique flavour. Standard oils and pure olive oil are suitable for frying. Unlike extra virgin olive oil, they have been created by a refining process which strips out most of the unique flavour which can be found in extra virgin olive oil and is therefore, it available at a cheaper price.
On the other hand, extra virgin olive oil needs to be cooked with care. It is the highest grade of olive oil so if it is heated to a high temperature it loses its flavour straight away. Â It is more frequently added to meat or fish which is already cooked or made into marinades, dressings and just purely drizzled over fresh pasta, salads and bread.
Another delightful dish including classical Mediterranean ingredients includes olive tapenade, a flavoursome dish which can served with bread or cruditÃ©s to finish. Please see recipe below:
2-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Handful of parsley
300g pitted black olives
6 anchovy fillets
3 tbsp chopped capers
1 juice of a lemon
1 garlic clove
A simple process: just mix of the ingredients together and add enough olive oil to create a paste. If you require a smooth texture use a blender to combine the ingredients. Again add more oil if you for more of a paste texture.
Olive oil should be stored in a dark, cool place and not in the refrigerator as it will eventually solidify. It should be kept in an odourless container and stored in cupboards that are not exposed to strong smell otherwise the oil will absorb the various smells.
If it is properly stored the oil can last of at least two years, however it has the best flavour in the first two months of opening so use it as much as you can then!
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This gourmet cooking companion comes in a variety of types and flavours, including infused olive oil. Combine with other gourmet delights such as balsamic vinegar, speciality dried pasta and sherry vinegars to make the ultimate gift for foodies.